After breaking her hip in a serious accident, Eleanor Ritter's mother, Rose, a Holocaust survivor now living in New Jersey, suddenly starts talking about her harrowing childhood in Poland and the taboo subjects she has refused to discuss for half a century -– even speaking in long-forgotten Polish. Around the same time, Eleanor learns that the parents of her nine-year-old son's soccer teammate, Tadek, are Catholics from Poland.
As Eleanor becomes fixated with digging into the histories of both her mother and Tadek’s family, her obsession strains her already difficult relationship with Rose, as well as her marriage to Nick, an IT technician who is himself caught up in preparing for the feared Y2K turn-of-the-millennium.
Eleanor starts flirting heavily with the soccer coach, ignoring her twelve-year-old daughter’s growing rebellion and her son’s misery when he becomes the team pariah for badly messing up several games. Meanwhile, the “sure-fire” tech stock that Eleanor bought behind Nick’s back is losing money. Even as her quest nourishes an odd friendship with Tadek’s mother, it forces Eleanor to face the unavoidable questions:
How many generations does guilt carry on? What did your grandparents do to my grandparents?
What the reviewers are already saying about THE HEIRS
“In THE HEIRS, Fran Hawthorne skillfully weaves an intimate and compelling portrait of Eleanor Ritter, a woman whose growing obsession with her family's experiences during the Holocaust threatens to derail her life more than fifty years later. Both heartbreaking and hopeful, THE HEIRS vividly lays bare the injustice of a legacy of guilt, and the danger of holding the present accountable for our past.”
—V.R. Barkowski, author of A Twist of Hate
“With grace, precision and infinite tenderness, Hawthorne limns the dilemma of the so-called sandwich generation, caught between rambunctious, rebellious children and declining parents. Here is a wise, thoughtful novel to savor and an author to watch—and love.”
—Yona Zeldis McDonough, fiction editor of Lilith magazine